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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Media Review - Def Leppard bring REO Speedwagon to Phoenix for a hit-filled trip down two different memory lanes By Ed Masley

Def Leppard’s new self-titled album, their first release in seven years, was recently nominated for Album of the Year at the Classic Rock Magazine Awards and Phil Collen told me he thinks it’s the best thing they’ve done since “Hysteria.”

So it makes perfect sense that Def Leppard would open their concert at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix Tuesday night with the opening track on that album. It even sounds like it was written with that spot in mind (“The heat goes up as the lights go down / The beat goes on when we hit your town / You overload on electric light / There's magic in the air tonight”).

And having setting the tone, they reached back to “Hysteria” for “Animal,” the audience helping them out on the handclaps.

There was no shortage of songs from the ‘80s, the era their music has come to define for certain types of rock fans, from “Let It Go” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” through “Armageddon It” and “Rocket.” They dipped into the early ‘90s for a rousing singalong on “Let’s Get Rocked” and reached back to the ‘70s to cover David Essex (a haunting rendition of “Rock On”), while keeping things fresh by adding two more songs from that new album to the set list, “Dangerous” and “Man Enough.”

They also showcased each musician’s individual strengths on the instrumental “Switch 625” from “High ‘n’ Dry,” one-armed drummer Rick Allen earning the rapturous response he warranted for his turn in the spotlight, which he shared with bassist Rick Savage.

The two guitarists – Vivian Campbell and Collen, who must save a fortune on shirts – also had plenty of time flex their chops on “Switch 625.” But there was no shortage of opportunities for them to shine throughout the set, taking turns in the spotlight at every turn, it seemed, and joining forces to harmonize on the classic lead that introduces “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak,” which went on to feature one of Campbell’s most majestic leads.

Joe Elliot’s vocals seemed to have been tucked a little lower in the mix when he went for the high notes, but he sounded great on “Love Bites,” the soulful power ballad from “Hysteria” that took the U.K. rockers to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. And he was ably assisted by his bandmates in recreating the wall of harmonies that helped define their sound back in the ’80s.

After bringing the set to a spirit climax with the one-two punch of “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” they left the stage, returning for a two-song encore – “Rock of Ages” and the most contagious singalong at their disposal, “Photograph.”

REO Speedwagon wouldn’t have seemed like a logical fit for a Def Leppard tour in the ‘80s, and they still don’t, really. But their biggest hits were more than likely played on the same stations. And with both acts, the appeal comes down to big, contagious pop hooks, which REO Speedwagon kind of perfected on “Hi Infidelity,” the nine-times-platinum mainstream breakthrough that remains their most effective calling card.

They opened with a two-song taste of that album as “Don’t Let Him Go” gave way to “Take It on the Run” in a set that would go on to feature “Tough Guys” and their first chart-topping single, “Keep On Loving You.” They also reached back to the early days for “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” “Keep Pushin’,” “Roll with the Changes” and “Time For Me To Fly.” And of course, they did their other No. 1, “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”

Kevin Cronin’s vocals sounded great throughout and he remains a very charismatic everyman, as frontman go, a quality that shines through even more effectively now that’s he rocking the short white hair and glasses.

By AZ Central 2016.

Reviews from the 2016 Phoenix, AZ Show.